The Stigma of Female-Dominated Fandoms

When you hear the name “The Beatles,” what comes to your mind? Most would think of The Beatles as musical legends who were loved by many. But did you know that there was a time where  The Beatles were regarded very poorly by music critics? Why did a group like The Beatles, who we now consider one of the greatest musical bands of all history, receive so much criticism during their time? One phrase: their female-dominated fandom. 

A fandom is a community of people that share the same passion or interest, whether that be a music artist, athletic team, TV show or a movie. While some fandoms consist of a mix of both female and male members, others are largely female or largely male. Certain fandoms are more marginalized than others too, and these are often the female-dominated fandoms. An example of a commonly marginalized fandom is the boy band fandom. Male-dominated fandoms, such as for sports teams, are more socially acceptable. Since boyband fandoms often consist of teenage girls, they are deemed unimportant, and the young fans are ridiculed for their interests.

Man Raising Brazil Flag at Soccer Game Photo by Caio from Pexels

Going back to The Beatles, their success is largely due to girls. Their fandom, the “Beatlemaniacs,” consisted mostly of young girls who were extremely passionate about the band and their music. However, it is because of their female-dominated fandom that the Beatles were not taken seriously at first. Jeff Nilsson explains how early critics were angered over The Beatles rock ‘n’ roll style of music, their bowl cuts, but most of all their “fanatical following of devoted teen fans, who gathered in larger numbers and with greater hysteria than anything seen before.” Many adults refused to take this iconic English band seriously due to their fans being for the most part teenage girls. Little did they know that those same teenage girls would carry the group of rockstars to be one of the most influential bands of all time.

Courtesy: Burst

There have been instances where bands have denounced the importance of their own female fans. For example, in a 2015 Rolling Stone interview with 5 Seconds of Summer, the band stated that “Seventy-five percent of our lives is proving we’re a real band... We don’t want to just be, like, for girls. We want to be for everyone. That’s the great mission that we have.” In order to feel like a real band, 5SOS felt like their fan base has to consist of male fans too. As Alexandra Pollard explained, the band members are not completely to blame for their negative views about female fans, but rather a society that treats young girls as “the lowest common denominator of music fan.” It is crucial to note that 5SOS would not have gotten anywhere near the success they had if it wasn’t for their female-dominated fandom, the “5SOS Fam”. 

A female-dominated fandom that has been continuously breaking these negative stereotypes is the “ARMY,” who are fans of the boy group Beyond the Scene BTS (a.k.a. Bangtan Boys). The ARMY is usually depicted as a group of mindless, hysterical teenage girls. However, this is far from an accurate description of this fandom. This article from The New York Times describes the fanbase as “broadly diverse, cutting across lines of gender, age, religion and nationality.” Despite the fan’s diversity, their clever organization, and the band’s countless global achievements, there are still many who refuse to take BTS seriously because of the stigma associated with their female-dominated fandom. I hope that BTS, and other rightful artists, continue to get the recognition that they deserve and break down the barriers created in the entertainment industry by this harmful stigma. 

fireworks at Kpop band BTS concert at MetLife Stadium Jana Alrayes